A Bible Reading: Isaiah 43. 1- 3; 18 - 19
But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour…
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
Each morning as I get up, I am monitoring the progress of the snowdrops at the top of the bank opposite the bedroom window. When we moved in, we didn’t even realise that the snowdrops were there in such vast quantity. Many were completely buried beneath the branches of the large yew tree, which dominated the bank and which we have subsequently had cut down, letting light into the house and garden. Now we have a bold carpet of white, reminding us that spring and better times are on the way.
Snowdrops are surprisingly varied in height, flower size, shape and even colouring with around 2,500 named varieties. The majority of these little flowers look incredibly fragile, and yet I am always astonished by their resilience. Come rain or shine, hail, sleet, snow or ice, these delicate little flowers will still survive. Even Storm Christoph did not deter them. There they were, still brightly standing and nodding cheerfully in the abating wind, a sign of hope in adversity and a sign of better things to come.
This amazing fortitude reminded me of the passage in Isaiah 43. Isaiah does not say ‘if’ you pass through water or fire, but ‘when’. The expectation is that storms of one kind or another will come throughout our lives, but the more important fact is that whatever is going on in life, God has redeemed us, we belong to him, he calls us by name, and he promises to be with us always.
Isaiah then goes on to talk about the new things God is doing if we only have eyes to see. Just like the snowdrops, growing hidden under the yew tree but still there. Now, exposed and left to the full force of January weather, they are quietly coming up with fresh growth, fragile but standing strong, and multiplying year on year. Later on this spring, we will be transplanting some, ‘in the green’ as they say, to fill in barren patches. These clumps will bring new life and restoration to areas of the rectory wilderness. And within the benefice, may we take heart in these trying times, and have eyes to see the new things that God is already doing among us, to see where new growth can be nurtured.
Lord, give us courage to stand firm when we feel vulnerable, and open our eyes to see the new things you are already doing among us. Amen.